As I’ve studied various therapies over the last few years, something that pops up from time to time, is the importance of play. It’s not something I believe we give a lot of thought to as adults. Play is synonymous with children and childhood, but it remains an important part of our growth as adults.
When I was little I played outside constantly, always with a neighbors dog in tow or I’d pretend I was a dog myself on many occasions. There were creeks to splash in, trees to climb, playgrounds to clamber on, swings to swing on. In colder months, puzzles were often laid out on the table, stuffed animals and a box full of clothes and costumes for tea parties and pretend.
As we age these things begin to slip away. Where do they go? Many of us leave behind our imaginations and step into the world of logic and work work work, in a hurry to turn our backs on the stuff of children. When was the last time you had fun? When was the last time you played? When was the last time you had fun and played without alcohol or another substance involved?
For some of us, especially those who are more introverted or anyone uncomfortable in crowds, alcohol is an easy crutch to pick up to loosen our inhibitions. Why do we become so inhibited in the first place? What’s wrong with playing and having fun, letting our hair down, getting on the ground and playing with animals or kids or bugs? Dancing like crazy or throwing your hands in the air as you sail down a slide?
When is the last time you really had some good clean fun? Something that left you tired and exhilarated and happy? I have a riding lesson once a week, for me that’s extraordinarily enjoyable, even though I’ve been riding for years, learning new skills and flying down the arena on a good horse is fabulous fun; outside of that I really had to pause as I was writing and think about what I do for play and fun and it took me a bit to rule out any occasions with alcohol involved and come to something really joyful.
Play is a form of therapy that is really valuable, but even or especially, in every day life, play can increase your sense of community, your mental acuity, it offers opportunity for exercise and fresh air, release of endorphins and stimulation of creativity, just to name a few of the perks.
Some ideas to get you started on bringing play and fun back into your life: break out the play-dough or clay, find some crayons or colored pencils and draw or color, go to an amusement park and ride some rides, go for a hike, play frisbee with your dog or some friends, play a board game, make a fort, do a puzzle, try a new recipe, try anything new really, ride a horse, join a softball team, get out there and shake things up, kids!
I understand the pain of this garden you find yourself in, and I promise you there is magic on the other side.
This pain, is absolutely necessary. There are going to be many doors that will open and you are going to walk through most of them as you find your way. You will find yourself every place you don’t belong until finally, you will find your true home.
You will fall in lust, in like, in hate, and in love with many souls. You will try to re-create the garden you escape from and you will find yourself desperately unhappy and you will always run. You never, ever settle and the path you choose in the end is the right one.
You will find yourself filled with exquisite rage that does not belong to you, but is part of you none the less. There is beauty even there, as you will learn to harness that righteous anger and become a healer.
Always remember, that your sacred heart and the best parts of you are found within the horses and the wolves. This is where your strength is. Remember that it’s okay to be the one who loves the most and that your tenderness is a gift. Your softness is not a weakness. From there, you will grow into your best self.
There are days when you find yourself searching for the Tree of Knowledge; look for it in blue eyes and jack daniels. Allow yourself to love this one. He saves you from yourself more times than you can count but never tries to tame your wild heart. You will never posess each other and there is immense beauty and freedom in this love. It wounds initially, but also heals. He is darkness, but without him, you wont find the light.
In this moment, I can offer you this one single hope; you’ll have no regrets. May you always remember the sheer beauty you are, and may you grow to be a light for others in darkness. I assure you, you are on the right path. Trust yourself, Trust the Process.
The light at the end of this tunnel is dazzling and he loves you, daughter of the wild earth, with a fierceness and warmth unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. This pain is absolutely necessary; and then there is love.